Maybe you got inspired by my Holiday Gift Guide and got (yourself) an infrared depth sensor to dive into the world of 3D Scanning — Good! If you’re a Windows 10 user, you probably chose an Intel RealSense-based device, like the Sense 2 3D Scanner that I reviewed recently, the Creative BlasterX Senz3D ($199) or the Razer Stargazer ($149). Those are all based on Intel’s latest SR300 hardware and can make pretty decent 3D scans. But it can do more than that…
An increasing amount of 3D Scanners and Software can record and export color information in the form of a so called UV Texture Map. This means that each polygon is textured with a part from an image file. The letters U and V stand for the 2D texture coordinates (Y, Y & Z are already taken by the 3D system), which are “mapped” onto surface of the polygonal mesh.
Like a regular map, UV maps are usually made of a series of smaller and larger islands representing adjacent parts of the 3D model. If a human designs a 3D model from scratch, you usually make a UV map that’s both efficient and makes sense. For a character, you’d create separate faces for different body parts and pieces of clothing. For memory-efficiency, these islands are then put into a power-of-two-sized square image file (e.g. 2048 x 2048 or 4096 x 4096 pixels). Like this game character:
In Part One I showed you how you can view and share your 3D scans Online and in Virtual Reality by using a service called Sketchfab. A great free alternative to expensive full color 3D prints! But there’s another technology besides VR that has caught a lot of media attention lately—AR or Augmented Reality. And I’m not talking about headset based AR (or Mixed Reality) like HoloLens, but the kind that just requires a smartphone or tablet—like Pokémon GO.
I’m amazed by the developments in 3D scanning since I started researching and writing about it in January. In particular, I like that the technology of 3D capturing has quickly become affordable and will continue to do so with sub-$500 smartphone-based 3D scanners and free photogrammetry apps.
Besides capturing objects in 3D, people seem to really like to have themselves volumetrically digitized, or in less funky words: 3D Selfies are the new Selfies.
One thing I also noticed is that 3D scanning is still very much tied to 3D printing. The scanners themselves are sold by stores that also sell the printers. And manufacturers of affordable 3D scanners—like the XYZ scanner and Sense scanner I reviewed earlier—are still marketing them to consumers as accessories to desktop 3D printers.
Like 3D Printing a few years ago, 3D Scanning has become affordable for consumers and small businesses. At entry level, people that are interested in capturing 3D can now experiment with Free Photogrammetry Apps or affordable 3D Scanners for Smartphones and Tablets.
Here are six tips for things to buy that will greatly improve the results of your 3D scans: